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Mavericks sloppy but head to break with win over Jazz

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With Rajon Rondo missing another game, the Dallas Mavericks were on the verge of playing the Utah Jazz without three of their five starters. Tyson Chandler (ankle) and Monta Ellis (hip) left in the first quarter during Monday night’s loss to the LA Clippers.

Understandable to sit them, this being the final game before the week-long all-star break, but Monta would take a shot at it. Greg Smith started in place of Tyson yet Bernard James, returning to Dallas on a 10-day contract, played more significant minutes.

Thanks to 15 points in the third quarter from J.J. Barea, the Mavericks (36-19) shrugged off first-half woes to defeat the Jazz 87-82 Wednesday night.

“It was great. My teammates were telling me to keep shooting. They kept giving me the ball and the ball just kept going in. I got going a little bit and that was big for us in the third quarter,” Barea said.

It didn’t come easy as both combine to miss the first 12 shots of the contest. Gordon Hayward would knock down a jumper for the game’s first basket with 7:47 left in the period. The Mavericks finally scored 17 seconds later thanks to Dirk Nowitzki.

You could tell Ellis was sore as he wasn’t his usual self. He’d finish with seven points on 1-of-6 shooting, but ended up tying a career-high with seven steals.

After missing their first seven shots, the Mavericks would end the first quarter with a 22-7 run and 8-of-13 from the field. The Jazz were just 4-of-20, 1-of-8 from three after one quarter.

Utah (19-34) was able to bounce right back, but more so from Dallas struggling to find the bottom of the net. However, the Jazz still cut into the Maverick lead. Trailing by 11 with 8:44 left before the half, Utah allowed 11 Dallas points in the final 7:43 and made it a two-point game at the break (39-37). The two were a combine 28-of-82 from the field (34 percent) and 9-of-30 from behind the arc (30 percent).

Both appeared to be teams ready for the break. Dallas looked to be on the verge of dropping just its sixth game after leading by 10 or more (31-5).

Then it was en fuego time ala “Jose – Jose Jose Jose.” The little man would hit his first six shots of the third, including three 3-pointers. The Mavericks would only go up nine a couple of times while the Jazz hung around and trailed 64-57 heading to the fourth.

“He really got hot in the pick and rolls and we needed it. We struggled to score,” Rick Carlisle said. “He’s been able to absorb the longer minutes.”

Thanks to an 8-2 run, Dallas pushed that lead to 13 with nine minutes left, but once again the Jazz would not go away. They cut it to 79-77 (18-7 run) with 1:49 left after Derrick Favors’ layup. Ellis, who also had a franchise record 12 deflections, picked off the Jazz and knocked down two from the line before Nowitzki was fouled by Rudy Gobert on a 3-point attempt. He’d make 2 of 3 for an 83-77 lead with 54.8 remaining.

Hayward, who finished with 12 points, nine boards and eight assists, slammed it home that capped off five points (Favors and-1, Utah steal, Hayward slam) – now 83-82 Mavs with 15.3.

Two more free throws set the Jazz up with one last chance, but Hayward’s pass went off Favors and Ellis picked it up, tossing it to Barea, who was fouled and hit the dagger free throws. He’d finish with a season-high 22 while Dirk picked up his 386th career double-double (fifth this season) with 15 points and 14 boards.

“He hit the big free throws that decided the game and came up with a steal that decided the game. So it’s not all about points,” Carlisle said.

After the break the Mavericks will take on the Oklahoma City Thunder, Feb. 19 at 7:00 p.m. As for the All-Star break, Chandler Parsons will take part in the fashion show while Dirk Nowitzki was named to his 13th game shortly after postgame interviews.

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